I’m pretty confident my child has grown tired of my telling her to pay attention.
She, influenced by politics on the playground and being a girl, desperately wanted to see the first woman President elected this year.
(I parent in a quirky fashion but I’m also a firm believer in choice. From religion to political figures I expose and leave it all up to her.)
As a result, she wasn’t thrilled about the inauguration on 1/20. She announced she wanted to turn off the news, end conversations and pretty much do anything to remove focus from the President for the next 4 years.
I reminded her, for the hundredth time since the season began, of the importance of paying attention.
This is a life-lesson we all learn – – I’d tell her. We may not like what’s happening around us all the time, yet ignoring/plunging our heads in the proverbial sand wont change a thing.
We don’t need to always be laser-focused, I told her. We do need to consistently keep an eye on the world and be aware.
As I struggled to explain this duality on an 11-year-old’s level, I was reminded of one of the saving graces of my return to the mat: my drishti.
Drishti is a sanscrit word which means focused gaze.
To the Child and the non-Yogi part of me these two words appear oxymoronic.
How can one be focused and simultaneously “merely gazing?”
Yet, when it comes to my yoga practice, focused gaze makes tremendous sense.
It’s soft focus on an unmoving object which provides me stability I desperately need.
I give my attention to the object. I am not solely focused on it.
All at the same time.
We humans can tap in to the power of this focused gaze off the mat as well. We can choose to bring our vision inward while concurrently keeping eyes firmly on the future.
Where our eyes are directed our attention follows.
Set your intention.
Recently the child and I created our ’17 vision boards.
At the start of each day I set an intention and check in with myself periodically to be certain I’m staying on course.
I spend a few minutes journaling each evening about where I see myself going (in life. in the future.) and make note of steps I’ve taken to get there.
These acts aid me in maintaining my drishti off the mat, keep my eyes affixed to where I long to be, and still maintain my momentum.
Let it goooooo.
For me the phrase “focused gaze” brings to mind how tunnel vision limits us.
My eyes remain firmly on my drishti, but not focused to the point of burn out.
The inclusion of the word gaze in the definition softens and prompts me to simultaneously bear in mind the big picture.
Letting go/softening my gaze off the mat helps me remain on the #wycwyc path. It reminds me of my commitment to a lifestyle where obsession makes us less likely to achieve our goals than small steps taken each day.
I once had a step aerobics instructor who, as we traveled up, down and across the platform, would shout:
Eyes on the prize, ladies!
At that point in my life the “prize” was weight loss. As a result, each time she admonished us to keep our eyes affixed there, all I could think about was how long I need to step up, down and grapevine to shed all the weight I longed to lose.
I had the focus. I didn’t soften with gaze.
In the end, my intense *focus* resulted in my quitting aerobics classes.
When I resumed exercising, and discovered my love of the weights, I did so with a drishti.
I softly gazed upon the small stuff (each session where I inched closer to my goal) while shifting focus toward how powerful and strong I’d be in the end.
Our brains believe the stories we tell them.
On and off the mat a drishti keeps me balanced and focused without tunnel vision or obsession.
It facilitates my paying attention without permitting fear or negativity to permeate my thoughts.
When I soften my gaze into a hazy focus it offers rare opportunity to see through through the illusions/distractions which surround me.
- How do you maintain soft focus & balance when (off the mat and) out in the world?
Angela @ happy fit mama saysJanuary 30, 2017 at 4:38 am
My drishti on the mat? Wonderful! Off…all over the place. I caught myself last week thinking how I need to dial it in and find a focus as my FOMO with running and friends has gotten a little crazy.
Bea saysJanuary 30, 2017 at 4:57 am
I think I’m moving backwards LOL I’ve lost my focus on AND off the mat with the events of the past week
Susie @ Suzlyfe saysJanuary 30, 2017 at 5:14 am
My drishti in the world is a happy, healthy family. I’ve let my eyes wander before, but now, there is a clear and level focus.
Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home saysJanuary 30, 2017 at 6:48 am
I’m working on mindfulness and I like the idea of finding a drishti off the mat. I’ve been all over the place lately.
Leanne | crestingthehill saysJanuary 30, 2017 at 7:44 am
I love how you look at everything so intentionally Carla – I’ve never heard of drishti but I can see how useful it is and how it can direct you without driving you beyond your limits. Really interesting!
Renee saysJanuary 30, 2017 at 7:48 am
I don’t even know what my ficus is these days..I need to start all over…thanks for this..
messymimi saysJanuary 30, 2017 at 8:11 am
As many yoga classes as i’ve had (off and on, and not on lately as i’m not at a gym any more), i’ve never even heard of this. It will take a bit of a while of thinking.
Haralee saysJanuary 30, 2017 at 9:00 am
This is terrific Carla. It is a great tool to use in life and especially with people who are difficult or being difficult.
Rena McDaniel saysJanuary 30, 2017 at 10:05 am
I love this idea. I need to get better at it for sure. Practice makes perfect as they say.
Roxanne Jones saysJanuary 30, 2017 at 11:36 am
Love the concept of drishti (I’d never heard the word before). When I start feeling scattered, adrift or caught up in everyday minutia, I remind myself of how short life is and it helps restore a sense of perspective, bringing me back to the present moment and letting go of stuff that really isn’t important.
Jody - Fit at 59 saysJanuary 30, 2017 at 2:53 pm
I am absolutely at a loss on this.. it permeates every inch of my body & brain. I wish I could drown it out! xoxo
Marcia saysJanuary 31, 2017 at 2:48 pm
I was your step class sister back in the day! ;p
I’d heard of drishti before but had no idea what it actually was, until you explained it. Like your daughter, my knee jerk reaction is to close my eyes and ears and wait for the storm to pass. But my focused gaze is on peace and seeing and being part of the goodness out there.
Adjusted Reality saysFebruary 7, 2017 at 5:20 pm
I think this one hit me recently (at least in terms of current events). I really really want to stick my head in the sand and wait for this all to go away. And honestly? I’ve got other things that demand my time right now, so all I can really do is worry about it. Instead, I’m going to spend this month researching charities to donate to who are fighting the good fight, and set up donations. That’s my drishti, perhaps, just doing what I can.
Maybe later this year I can donate my TIME but if I can’t do that I can at least put my support behind something like PP or ACLU with funds.